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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Vet Provides Humane, In-Home Service for a Pet’s Final Moments

by Jack Firneno

Don and Donna Shields have worked separately for decades helping animals lead better lives. Now, they’ve teamed up to help pet owners make the final moments with their beloved pets peaceful and calm.

Last Act of Love is the couple’s at-home euthanasia program, where animals pass away peacefully in their home, surrounded by loved ones. It’s much less painful for the pets, and more comforting for their owners. Now in its third year, Last Act of Love serves all of Bucks County.

Don, a veterinarian for more than five decades, first sedates the animal. Then, he and Donna leave the family alone as their pet falls asleep. When they’re ready, he administers the final shots. The couple also provides cremation service through Abbey Glen Pet Memorial Park.

“You don’t have to take that last, long ride,” says Donna. “You can give your pet a gentle goodbye in the privacy of your own home.”

She got the idea for the program while running a cat clinic and adopting many feral felines herself. When a cat needed to be put to sleep, Don, who owned a veterinary hospital for 50 years in Bethayres, would do so at their home. Donna realized how comforting it was this way, and thought others would appreciate the same.

She was right: At their first visit, the dog’s owner and grown children all gathered to say their tearful goodbyes. Ashley, a 110-pound English sheepdog, had not moved for nearly two days, as she was in severe pain. After the sedation was given, she was able to pass away peacefully at home in her owner’s arms.

Since then, the couple has serviced animals in their favorite part of the house, in yards and under trees. Donna recalls one family placing their pet in a bed with soft church music playing. “People say goodbye in all different ways,” she says.

For more information, call 215-485-8780 or 215-485-8782.

Jack Firneno is an award-winning writer based in Philadelphia. Connect at

April 2017